Monkey on my back is commonly used to describe someone having an addiction to a narcotic substance. This phrase is commonly used to describe the relentless grip of a substance or behavior that keeps you trapped in the cycle of addiction.
The history of this term can be traced back to the early 20th century. Some believe it originated from the legend of the Flying Dutchman, a ghost ship cursed to sail the seas forever. Sailors would say that having a monkey on board brought bad luck, and the expression gradually evolved to represent any burden or addiction that one carries. From other sources the idiom “a monkey on your back” refers to carrying a significant, unresolved problem or a severe addiction, symbolizing a burden that is difficult to shake off. Its origin is attributed to the metaphor of a person bearing an unshakeable burden, often related to anger, but has evolved to encompass broader issues, particularly addiction. This phrase contrasts with “monkey off my back,” which signifies relief from such a burden.
The phrase dates back to the mid-1800s, initially describing someone who was persistently irritable or angry. Its modern association with addiction became prevalent in the mid-20th century. The idiom may also draw inspiration from Aesop’s Fable about a monkey and a dolphin, where the dolphin, mistaking the monkey for a man, initially helps it but then seeks to remove it upon discovering its true nature. Additionally, the idiom’s connection with evil, possibly due to monkeys’ distorted human resemblance and historical depictions of the devil as a monkey-like creature, contributes to its meaning. While references to this idiom appear in various literary works, including Sinbad’s tales, it’s unclear if these are the origins or merely allusions to an earlier source.
When you hear someone say they have a “monkey on their back” in the context of addiction, it means they are struggling with substance abuse or a compulsive behavior that they can’t break free from. This metaphorical monkey symbolizes the constant craving or desire that addicts experience, which feels like a weight on their shoulders.
Addiction treatment aims to help you remove this monkey from your back. Whether through therapy, counselling, support groups, or medication, rehab facilities provide a supportive environment to address the underlying causes of addiction and learn healthier coping mechanisms.
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Founded in 2008, WeDoRecover has evolved from an advisory service for addiction treatment into a comprehensive provider of care, following its 2019 merger with Changes Addiction Rehab in Johannesburg. Specializing in connecting patients to top-tier addiction treatment centers in the UK, South Africa, and Thailand, WeDoRecover supports individuals globally, including those from the United Arab Emirates and Europe. Accepting both South African medical aid and international health insurance, the organization facilitates access to high-quality treatment for substance and alcohol use disorders, offering individualized care that addresses the physical, mental, and social needs of patients.
Our team, led by Gareth Carter, offers empathetic and professional support, guiding you through every step of the treatment process. Whether you're in South Africa or abroad, our acceptance of various insurance plans makes quality care accessible, providing a platform for lasting recovery and a healthier future.
Finding the right rehab close to you is simple with WeDoRecover. Our network includes the finest rehab centers, ensuring personalised, quality care for your recovery needs. Let Gareth Carter and our empathetic team help guide you to a center that feels right for you, offering expert care and support. Start your healing today by choosing a rehab that's not just close to you, but also that truly cares about your loved ones recovery.